Samantha Crain Blogs About Cayamo

Samantha Crain“Hey! It’s Samantha Crain. Can’t wait for this Cayamo Cruise to set sail! I’ve never been on a cruise, or even on a boat that isn’t in a river or on a lake, so I’m a little nervous but mostly excited. Like most of you, I’m honored to be playing in the same event as legendary greats like Emmylou Harris (Emmylou, my doggy is named after you) and Lyle Lovett, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing some artists whose music I’m just discovering like Brandi Carlile and Lissie. It’ll also be good to catch up with some people I’ve played shows with in the past like Katie Herzig, members of Works Progress Administration, and, of course, my twin sister Rachael Yamagata! Rachael and I had a lot of fun being little/big sister versions of each other on the Hotel Cafe tour last winter so hopefully we won’t confuse anyone again…

I hear there are going to be theme nights?! My mind can only help but sorta go crazy on this one….I don’t know what kind of theme nights they have but I really hope there is like an alien or UFO or future-type theme night…That would really bowl me over!  Well, I’m really looking forward to all this and I’ve met some people out on the road at shows this year who are coming and some who have been before and they’ve made sure to let me know I’m going to have a blast!”


The Audience & The Message

Two people walk into a restaurant….One of them for the first time and the other for the tenth time. The 1st timer wants to try the signature dish and the 10th timer wants to sit at their favorite table, chat with the owner for a minute and try the new special.

Two fans go to see the Zac Brown Band….One of them for the first time and the other for the tenth time. The 1st timer wants to hear the hit and get an autograph while the 10th timer wants to hear the band play a new song and try a different arrangement on another song.

Two guests sail on The Rock Boat….one for the first time and the other for the tenth. The 1st timer wants to meet Sister Hazel and the 10th timer wants to see Sister Hazel do a puppet show.

Picture 1

The fact that one of them has returned ten times lets you know that it is a great experience and the arrival of the 1st timer lets you that you have an opportunity to help them begin their journey to the tenth time.

So what do you do? You can’t give out two menus, play two set lists or visit two different ports.

We are working on something we call “The Audience & The Message” where we segment each cruise into small groups. For The Rock Boat, we have the following:
A – Virgins (sailing with us for the first time)
B – Alumni (sailed with us one or two times)
C – Pioneers (sailed with us three, four or five times)
D – Jackets (sailed with us six, seven, eight or nine times)
E – Lifers (sailed 10 more times)

If you think about it, these are all unique audiences that require a different message, approach and acknowledgment. Our goal is to define all the possible moments one may experience during The Rock Boat and highlight the ones most likely to resonate with each group. I am so excited and believe this will help us acknowledge and serve our guests in new and personal way.

Wish us luck….

Leading, Managing, and Being Your Best Buddy

middle-manager1When researching with Google, there are over 350,000,000 matches for leading, 150,000,000 for managing, and 31,000,000 for buddies.  So, no, this blog is not the most original item you’ll find.  However, it’s a good reminder, a learning experience that I’ve had, and possibly something that will be familiar to some of you out there.

At 23, I found myself as one of the youngest managers in a particular retail establishment.  My competition for the job was not very deep as it wasn’t the most desirable position and you had to have unique skills to be considered.  I wowed the district manager with my ideas for marketing and organization.  I eagerly proposed an outline to better sales and make more efficient employees.  I got the job with little to no experience in managing, thinking that it would be a breeze.  As many of you probably know, it’s not a breeze, by any means.

However, that has not been the most difficult challenge for me when it comes to leading.  Many things are predictable in an established environment with the basic business model.  More marketing = more money.  Rewards = happier employees.  Etcetera.

The challenge is figuring out how to work with people that don’t necessarily want to be managed and drawing the line between friendship and business relationship.  Hence leading becomes the operative word, and possibly why it comes up with the most hits on Google.

I learned that you can’t be best friends with your employees (they probably resent any effort you make to become buddies).  I learned that just asking someone to do something usually isn’t enough (they probably question your every motive).  You must inspire people.  Leading is about pushing people in the right direction, producing positive teamwork, and giving your team the tools to become better at what they do.

But wait, that’s not all, the most challenging leadership has been (wait for it…) being the captain of a team.  That’s right, I’m bringing it back to roller derby.  This situation is a little different.  Your team is not getting paid to work for you.  This is not your regular business model.  You do actually want to be friends with the people you skate with, and you also have to implement some of the same ideas you do in your everyday leadership position.  You can inspire people with your ability to skate, but how do you inspire them to work together, to find a common goal, to put aside that female pride and let someone lead?

Well, it’s tough.  But you can only learn by trial and error (and picking up a few books like Attitude 101, Teamwork 101, and The Everything Leadership Book).  I get inspired regularly by watching other people and learning about leadership.  So, I hope to find that this 2010 season will be the best leading I’ve done so far.  Not managing, while still making best buddies, and inspiring a group of very different women to come together and make something wonderful happen.  Something like winning a championship with hard work, dedication, and fun!


I slept so hard, I may have time traveled.

We got home from the Simple Man Cruise Monday. We’ve all got a really bad case of boat dumb, but we’re still at work! This past week, I worked harder than I ever have in my life, and my main source of calories came from chicken fingers snatched from the buffet, eaten while running down the hall. My toes are swollen and my knees are killing me from being on my feet for 4 days straight, and I’m pretty sure I blew out an eardrum at some point.

But you know what? I wouldn’t trade all that wear & tear for the world.   This year’s cruise was a truly magical experience, and I am so proud to have been a part of it. I just spent 4 days surrounded by the best people in the world. This Skynyrd family raised over $13,000 to help a little girl most of them had never met, and absolutely overwhelmed us with donations for the Chrysalis Group in Cozumel, which is a charity benefiting underprivileged kids.

When I finally made it to bed Monday night, I fell into the deepest most exhausted sleep I’ve ever had. I woke up disoriented, and I thought maybe I was in another time & place.  I soon realized I was at my home in Decatur, GA, and I needed to get up and head to work, so we can start planning on doing it all again!

Thanks for a great cruise, everybody. See you next year!

A Sixthman First

wet t shirt!Earlier this year, the Simple Man team was throwing around ideas to make this cruise the most memorable and most fun of all time. Out of that brainstorming session came the BEST CONTEST OF ALL TIME. The Men’s Wet T Shirt Contest. We figured the ladies always monopolize those, so why not give the hot dudes a chance to show us what they’ve got?!

Scott Munns, our illustrious emcee, called 6 gentlemen to the stage, and the antics began. The entire pool deck whipped put their cameras, and as Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” played from the loudspeakers, these six gents were doused with ice cold water. (Don’t feel bad about the cold- it was HOT out there!) They danced, shimmied and shook their way around the deck, and the winners were selected by audience applause. The highlight of the contest came at the very end when a particularly enthusiastic participant ripped his shirt off and threw it. That wet t shirt happened to land directly on Scott Munns’s face.

Perfect end to a crazy contest.


I just high-fived 2200 People.

I just slapped high fives with half of the ship, and I feel amazing.  2200 people, 2200 smiles, 2200 “hell yeahs!” and “WOOOO SIMPLE MAN!.”

There’s a reason this cruise is called a “family reunion” for a reason.  Last night at the pre-party I met people from England, Scotland, Germany, Canada, and Ireland who are coming back for their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th skynyrd cruise.  They only see each other once a year (when on this ship), but they all act as if they’re related.  I commented to Andy (my partner in crime on the high-five welcoming committee) that I’ve never seen so many people at the same level of excitement.  I love this ship, I love this people, I love being a part of this experience.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to run to the back lounge and introduce a band that has continued to carry on the Southern Rock tradition, Blackberry Smoke.  After that, it’s off to the main lounge to get ready for our first main-stage Lynyrd Skynyrd show of the event.  I can’t wait to see what happens over the next four days.

Life is good.  Stay tuned.


The Simple Man Cruise has officially begun!

…and I couldn’t be more excited. I just returned from the cruise kick off party, and there is a bar full of really excited people in Ybor City right now. Oakhurst got it started with some fabulous bluegrass jams, the beer was flowing, and the family was back together. There is absolutely no cruise like the Simple Man Cruise.

Walking into the pre party, I had so many things running through my mind- all of the tiny things that could go wrong, every little issue that has come up, anything that could be seen as a flaw was at the forefront of my mind. I was nervous. The Sixthman team members stepped into Gaspar’s Grotto, and started making our rounds. Almost immediately, my fears subsided. I remembered why I do this. Talking to our guests makes me so freaking happy. Everyone had a great attitude, and just wants to have a good time. Well, that’s what I’m here for. Get ready for the best party you’ve ever seen, Simple Man!